I could (and maybe I will) write an article about how Jay-Z (oh wait…JAY Z) has transcended hip-hop and become a pop culture icon in a way that most artists of his ilk don’t get to without dying. I mean, let’s break it down; Jay’s been in the game nearly 20 years (an eternity in rap music,) has had consistent success, is a huge international name, and is maintaining and expanding his reach even after the age of 40. He’s at a place reserved for the classic rockers and soul legends of the world, and despite what naysayers may think of his latest (not half bad) album Magna Carta Holy Grail (see our review), he’s pushing the envelope more than any commercial hip-hop artist in the game right now (with the possible exception of his “little brother” Kanye.) And if it seems like Jay is pushing himself into “pretentious” territory, hell…more people in hip-hop need to do that. Shit is stagnant right now.
Who else would create a six-hour performance art piece of one of the tracks on his album? For the “Picasso Baby” short film (not a video…Jay is on his MJ steez right now,) Jiggaman corralled director Mark Romanek (Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” and Michael & Janet’s “Scream”) to capture a six-hour performance at the Pace Gallery in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. It’s pretty damn tight. From an artistic perspective, it’s cool to see Jay take hip-hop’s basic concept of a cipher and make it more interactive and loose-limbed. From a 30-year hip-hop fan’s perspective, it’s interesting to see the genre being taken into an unusual arena. From a gawker’s perspective, it’s cool to see how many folks from all facets of the art world come out to see the “exhibit.” Go ahead, count the celebrities.
Even if the song isn’t great (it isn’t,) this piece gives me a new appreciation for it.